The repeating structural unit of metazoan chromatin is the chromatosome, a nucleosome bound to a linker histone, H1. There are 11 human H1 isoforms with diverse cellular functions, but how they interact with the nucleosome remains elusive. Here, we determined the cryoelectron microscopy (cryo-EM) structures of chromatosomes containing 197 bp DNA and three different human H1 isoforms, respectively. The globular domains of all three H1 isoforms bound to the nucleosome dyad. However, the flanking/linker DNAs displayed substantial distinct dynamic conformations. Nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) and H1 tail-swapping cryo-EM experiments revealed that the C-terminal tails of the H1 isoforms mainly controlled the flanking DNA orientations. We also observed partial ordering of the core histone H2A C-terminal and H3 N-terminal tails in the chromatosomes. Our results provide insights into the structures and dynamics of the chromatosomes and have implications for the structure and function of chromatin.
Keywords: Cryo-EM; NMR; chromatin structure; chromatosome; chromatosome dynamics; chromatosome structure; linker histone isoform; linker histone tail; nucleosome; single-chain antibody.
Published by Elsevier Inc.